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How to Conquer Your Fear of Going Ice Fishing in One Weekend

Updated on June 19, 2013

So your life revolves around fishing, but only during the Spring and Summer months. You've heard people talk about ice fishing, but whenever you ask your fishing buddies if they'd like to try it out sometime, their response is always, "wild horses couldn't get me out on that ice." You agree, and figure how fun could it be anyways, sitting in a shack out in the cold, watching a line in a hole in the ice all day long: plenty of better ways to spend a weekend in January. Later that weekend, out bowling, or relaxing at a bar, you find yourself still unable to shake that curiosity about ice fishing from your system. If this is you, you've clicked on the right link, because I'm here to tell you that if you haven't spent a weekend ice fishing yet, you've definitely been missing out. Ice fishing, if done right, can lead to a winter weekend you'll never forget.

First off, if you have a fear of going out onto frozen ice, you're not alone. I know many people who would rather get their teeth drilled without novocaine than walk out onto a frozen body of water, regardless of how thick the ice may be. It's not uncommon, but I can assure you, so long as you rent an ice shack from a well established ice fishing resort, and their staff has no worries about the ice being too thin, you're probably more likely to get struck by lightning while you're out there. Bombardiers as big as combines are constantly traveling up and down Midwestern lakes, oftentimes from early December up until the end of March, and it's only once in a very rare blue moon you actually hear about an accident ultimately occurring, which is usually the result of one driving off track. That being said, it goes without saying that, much like with flying, the more you go out on the ice, the more you realize there's really nothing to be afraid of. And if you're worried about the heater in your ice shack melting through the ice, I can assure you that, unlike your fishing line, heat is not effected by gravity, and to worry about it melting through over a foot of ice beneath you is about as naive as worrying that a heat waive could dry out the oceans. Trust me, it won't happen.

So you've decided to be brave enough to spend a couple of days out on the ice. Congratulations. Your next concern now is the cold. Not only could it be below zero out there, on a flat surface, like a lake, one could certainly expect the possibility of dangerous wind chills as well. While this is certainly true, I can assure you most ice shacks you rent will be thoroughly heated. As such, so long as you stay indoors, you won't have to worry about getting frost bitten, no matter how cold it may be outside. While it doesn't hurt to take along insulated boots, an extra winter jacket, and a few sweaters, unless you're planning on doing some hiking on this getaway, if you have a snow suit, it's safe to say you can leave that at home.

So the ice and the cold are no longer a worry. Boredom is your next concern. Unlike angling in the summertime, where you have dozens of different directions you can cast your line out into, how much fun can it be just sitting there watching a line dangle within a little hole drilled through the ice. To ensure this doesn't happen, the only advice I can provide is to make sure you research ice shack rentals on lakes with good reputations for ice fishing, and to ask the renters how well the fishing has been this season before making your reservation. I spent my first two day ice fishing getaway on Lake of the Woods in Northern Minnesota, a lake well known for its ice fishing. While I would've been satisfied catching just one or two fish on this trip, I can honestly say I caught my limit of walleye every day, and a couple of big eel pout taboot. Needless to say, boredom was not the slightest bit of an issue for me while I was out there. If I wasn't catching fish, I was busy cleaning, preparing, or eating the ones I'd caught. So don't just rent something on the closest body of water to your home that you know has fish in it. Do a little research before you commit yourself to your first weekend of ice fishing. The difference between catching fish on this trip, and ending your weekend with a big easter egg, could mean the difference between a lasting positive memory and a trip you look back on as a complete flop.

So you've completed your research and you've discovered a few good ice fishing lakes within a reasonable driving distance from your home. How much is all this gonna cost? While it's fair to say you'll probably end up spending a little more money to rent a shack on a good ice fishing lake than on a less popular one, I couldn't be more confident in saying that it's definitely worth the extra dough. I can also assure you, most ice fishing shacks, even on the best lakes for winter fishing, are not very expensive. Ice fishing is not as popular as fishing during warmer months, so ice shack owners are not only typically reasonable with their rates, but very hospitable as well. They'll typically drive you to and from your ice shack, check in with you a couple times per day, and even provide you with supplies, if needed. They want your business again, and if you follow these tips for your first ice fishing getaway, chances are that's exactly what they'll end up getting.



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